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All 10 passengers aboard a small plane, whose wreckage was discovered in central Kenya two days after it went missing, died in the accident, the airline and government said Thursday.
“Unfortunately, from the reports we are getting there are no survivors. The families of the passengers and the crew have been notified and as a ministry, we truly regret this very sad outcome and send out our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” said Paul Maringa, principal secretary of the transport ministry.
A surveillance helicopter spotted the wreckage of the Cessna plane belonging to the FlySAX airline near the town of Njabini on the edge of the Aberdares mountain range early Thursday morning.
Search teams were dispatched to the site.
“It is with a heavy heart that I wish to inform you that we have received information there are no survivors in the recent incident that we had,” FlySAX chairman Charles Wako told journalists at the Weston Hotel after briefing families who had gathered there at a crisis centre.
Christian Mission Fellowship International missionary Fijian Pastor Sakaraia Mataka and his 15-year-old son, Paula Tekei were on the ill-fated flight.
Pastor Mataka and Paula were on their way to Fiji for a visit.
His wife Serafina and his other three kids remained in Kitale where they are based.
Today, CMFI held prayer vigils for Pastor Mataka and Paula.
A statement from the Church said Pastor Mataka and his family have been based in Kitale for more than 10 years.
The President and Founder of CMFI, Reverend Suliasi Kurulo, said Pastor Mataka was a faithful and committed servant of the Lord and the church would continue to stand prayerful and hopeful as the search continued.
The plane, operated by East African Safari Air Express, took off from the western town of Kitale in the late afternoon Tuesday.
It disappeared off the radar screens at Nairobi international airport, its final destination, around 80 minutes later, the owners said in a statement.
Kenya has been experiencing heavy rains which along with foggy conditions hampered search efforts by the Civil Aviation Authority, Kenya Wildlife Service, air force and Red Cross.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said the families of the victims would “have every assistance my administration can offer, now and in the days to come. They can be sure that there will be a full review of our procedures, so that we can all understand how this tragedy happened."
Kenya has a vibrant airline industry, with national airline Kenya Airways operating internationally and locally alongside successful low-cost airlines and charter companies.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2014, some 130,000 planes land and take off from Kenya each year, and the country has 35 operating airlines.
The IATA said Kenya’s air transport infrastructure quality ranks 6th out of 37 countries surveyed in Africa.
In October 2017 five passengers were killed when a helicopter crashed into Lake Nakuru, while in 2012 a helicopter carring internal security minister George Saitot crashed, killing all six passengers on board.
Kenya's worst crash in recent years took place in 2007, when a Kenya Airways flight from Abidjan to Nairobi via Douala crashed into a swamp after take-off, killing all 114 passengers.
In 2000 another Kenya Airways flight from Abidjan to Nairobi crashed into the Atlantic Ocean minutes after take-off, killing 169 people while 10 survived.
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